Jussie Smollett has been sued by the City of Chicago after it allegedly spent more than $130,000 “in overtime costs to investigate” his alleged January attack, according to a new lawsuit.
Two weeks after all charges against the Empire star were dropped — stemming from accusations he staged an alleged early morning hate crime attack against himself on a Chicago sidewalk in January — and city lawyers issued a demand letter to him on behalf of Chicago and their police department, requesting that the actor pay $130,106.15 to make up for overtime hours that were spent on the investigation, the City of Chicago has filed a civil action lawsuit against Smollett.
According to the suit, filed Thursday to the Cook County Court and obtained by PEOPLE, the City of Chicago states that it is “seeking relief against [Smollett] for false statements he made to the City, and seeking recovery of the costs of necessary services provided by the City due to [Smollett’s] violations of the [Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC)].”
Smollet, 36, has been sued by the City of Chicago “to recover civil penalties, statutory treble damages, and attorney’s fees and costs arising from [Smollett’s] false statements to the City,” the suit states.
PEOPLE is out to Smollett’s attorney for comment.
After Smollett filed the allegedly “false” reports to police at the end of January, the City “incurred” more than 1,800 “overtime hours” to investigate his case, the suit states.
“For the next two weeks, the CPD expended significant resources investigating [Smollett’s] false report of a high-profile hate crime and physical assault. Over two dozen CPD officers and detectives participated in the investigation, ultimately spending weeks investigating [Smollett’s] false statements,” the suit alleges. “During the course of CPD’s investigation into [Smollett’s] false statements, CPD has incurred 1,836 overtime hours, which resulted in the City paying $130,106.15 in overtime pay as a result of [Smollett’s] false statements.”
Smollett told police he’d been physically attacked on the street in his downtown Chicago neighborhood around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 by two black-clad, masked men who used racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with an “unknown chemical substance” and left him with a rope around his neck.
He earlier had pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police when he said he was attacked by two men in what authorities later claimed was a staged incident to draw attention to himself. Smollett was arrested Feb. 20 after an investigation, and indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports.
Smollett and his legal team previously said they had planned an “aggressive defense,” according to his attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson.
At the end of March, all charges against the Fox star were dropped, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE.
“After reviewing all the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” reads a statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office previously obtained by PEOPLE.
The office did not, however, fully retreat from its initial decision to bring charges against Smollett or otherwise address PEOPLE’s inquiry on whether prosecutors still believe he staged the attack, saying in a followup statement: “We stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”
Weeks later, the City of Chicago is continuing to stand by the Chicago Police Department’s extensive investigation.
The suit states, “On January 29, 2019, [Smollett] submitted a false police report claiming that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic beating by unknown attackers. In reality, [Smollett] knew his attackers and orchestrated the purported attack himself.” It continues, “Later, when police confronted him with evidence about his attackers, he still refused to disclose his involvement in planning the attack. In investigating [Smollett’s] false statements and false police report, the City incurred significant costs in order to provide services reasonably related to [Smollett’s] conduct.”
Later, the suit states that “because of [Smollett’s] false statements, the City expended significant resources and manpower, including but not limited to, $130,106.51 in CPD overtime pay that the City paid solely due to [Smollett’s] false statements.”
The suit also details the alleged series of events from the night of “the staged attack,” including Smollett’s interactions with brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo. (They later issued a public apology for their role in the allegedly staged incident, expressing “tremendous regret” for their actions, according to a statement from their attorney.)
“[Smollett] told CPD officers that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic physical attack,” the suit states. “[Smollett] made this report to the CPD officers despite knowing that the purported attack was not for racist or homophobic motives, that his purported attackers were, in fact, his acquaintances, and that he had asked his purported attackers, the Osundairo Brothers, to stage the attack.”
Now, the City of Chicago is alleging that Smollett is guilty on two counts — violation of the FSO and CRO — and is seeking relief for both.
For his alleged violation of the FSO, the City is requesting that Smollett be found “liable for violating the FSO”; “fine [Smollett] a civil penalty of $1,000 for each false statement he made to the City”; “enter judgment against [Smollett] and in favor of the City for the civil penalties assessed, and trebled damages in an amount to be proven at trial (which includes, but is not limited to, overtime compensation paid by the City) incurred by the City because of [Smollett’s] false statements”; that he be ordered “to pay the City’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs”; and that the court “award such further relief as this Court deems just and equitable.”
As for his alleged violation of the CRO, the City is requesting that the court “find that the City incurred necessary costs investigating and responding to [Smollett’s] statements made in violation of the MCC”; “order [Smollett] to pay the City’s response costs in an amount to be proven at trial”; “order [Smollett] to pay the City a penalty in an amount equal to the City’s litigation and collection costs and attorney’s fees”; and “award such further relief as this Court deems just and equitable.”
After charges against Smollett were dropped in March, his attorneys, Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes, released a statement to PEOPLE saying, “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him.”
The statement added, “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,” it continued. “This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. This is wrong. It is a reminder that the victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”